"No Child Left Inside" · Conversations with Kids · Education · Growing Up New Hampshire · Local · Nature-Based Learning · Through the Power of Sport

“Dear Mary from Birmingham” Letters: Batch 4

One of my favorite photos from last season’s Girls of Summer

As I’ve officially returned to school this week for professional development, I await the arrival of my students one week from today.  Sitting in meetings with colleagues, my eyes often turn to wonder outside the window, and I remember our hiking experiences this summer with our girls.  Why is it that writing comes so much easier for some in the woods than in my classroom?  Hmmm, might have to move my English classroom outside?  Thank you for reading these letters.  Please let us know if you come across one of them in one of our newspapers nationwide.  Thanks!

Dear Mrs. Altz Smith,

I have recently come upon your letter, and I have a few comments and questions I would like to express. To start, what is your definition of nature? Do you feel as though it should be cleaned, and tamed, and played with? Well to me, that is not nature. That is humans intervening on yet another thing that should be untouched. We should enjoy the nature, not destroy it. We, as humans, have already taken over so much land that is not ours, and destroyed so many things. If we were to alter the trails any more, we would be destroying every more animals’ homes.

Hiking is all about the way up, being in touch with nature, and observing things from a different angle.Think about it; without the help of nature, you wouldn’t have those trails in Alabama. Nature is all around us, and we need to think about things other than humans when talking about trails. I would wish for you to come and go on a hike just one more time in the White Mountains, and look at it from a different perspective. I want you to see what I see. I want to make those boulders seem like a mini session of rock climbing, or the roots a different way of playing jump rope. This way, all the things that you at this time may think are disgraceful, can truly be remarkable.


Lucy Loukes, grade 12 Lin-Wood Public School

Dear Mary Altz-Smith ,

I disagree with your letter written about how the White Mountains Mountains are too hard to hike and need to be paved. The whole point to hike is to have a challenge. The drive to have fun and explore the outdoors. You can’t explore the outdoors by walking on pavement that man had to disturb nature to get and easier hike. Hikes are about escaping into the woods and enjoying what was put there by mother nature. You can look at all the nice flowers and cool rocks on the trail. How are you going to see that on a “trail” that has a cement walkway for people who need an easier hike?

The world has prepared itself for humans to roam on the planet one day.  That day has already come far long ago. It shows natural trails, lakes, and mountains. Putting cement all over the White Mountains trails would be devastating. We would be polluting the earth with the gas from the truck that delivers the cement, and the running of the cement. Putting all of these greenhouse gases in the air will only boost global warming. Therefore, the trails should not be paved. This is why I strongly disagree with the letter written about the White Mountains Hiking trails.


Sydney Pickering 8th grade at Lin-Wood Public School

Dear Mrs. Altz-Smith,

My name is Daria Etchings, and I am a student  entering 12th grade at Lin-Wood.  I also happen to live in the White Mountains and have for all of my life.  The view from my home looks out onto the Presidential Range.  I also have been fortunate to hike these beautiful mountains, as well as work on them.  My teachers, who established a girls hiking program at my school, have shared with us your letter to The Union Leader.  I participated in a program with the White Mountain National Forest Service that allowed me to learn and do hands-on experience with the different jobs within the Forest.  One of these jobs was trail maintenance.  Now, in your letter, you called our trails “a disgrace.”  I respectfully disagree.  These trails are constantly being groomed. They are made to be “climbable,” which should not be confused with easy to climb.  I agree, that everyone should see these beautiful, breathtaking views.


Daria Etchings, Lin-Wood School, Grade 12

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